Smiles while driving my GTI!
I bought my 2008 GTI based on the strength of several Car of the Year awards from automotive magazines and television shows (Automobile Mag, Top Gear - show and magazine, and Fifth Gear). I have not been disappointed in any way. The GTI is everything I could ever need from a car and far more than I expected to find in one vehicle. I'll be honest, I'm a huge fan of hot hatchbacks. I love how they offer all the practical benefits of a sizable trunk, fold-flat seats, good gas mileage, and then top that practicality off with increased power and driving fun. The GTI is, by far, the best hatch I've owned or driven, far exceeding my previous Civic Si. I think my favorite part of the car is the engine; which is absolutely perfect. It pulls from low RPM, is quiet when you're going slow - but then you floor it and the turbo's howl comes in over top of the engine's growl and sings you along on a wave of torque and power. That torque is available all over the rev band. And to top it all off, drive it sensibly (as, honestly, I will most of the time), and it returns more than 30 mpg. The GTI's suspension does a great job at balancing handling and comfort. It will carve up mountain roads without crashing over road joints. However, the 18" wheels and low-profile tires do compromise the GTI's ride slightly. Still, it is comfortable and holds the road well. The steering's feedback is spot-on. The exterior is handsome in an understated way. It is timeless, classless and will be welcome anywhere. It is both unpretentious and elegant - and would fit in equally well outside a 7-11 or a Morton's Steakhouse. The small touches that denote a GTI from a Golf/Rabbit are subtle, yet add up to a car that has a distinctly different character despite a similar profile. The interior is equally classy and welcoming - the materials and finish quality are unequaled at this price point. The dials and needles are clear and the controls are utterly intuitive. The seats are perfect. They are comfortable, supportive, and the infinitely adjustable controls (as well as the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel) make finding your perfect driving position a snap. The handling is a joy and the limits of adhesion are high. The GTI is nearly bored by most public roads, but a true treat blasting over mountain roads. This car will put a silly grin on your face. As for more practical matters, the rear seats fold down easily to open a cavernous load space. The Xenon HID headlights provide the best illumination I've ever enjoyed from a car. The rear seats are comfortable and surprisingly spacious. In short, the GTI is everything a reasonable person could want from a car. It is perfect for road trips - it will take as many people and as much baggage as a BMW X5 while using far less gas and being far more fun to drive. The GTI has been the king of the hot hatch heap since the first one (which also had tartan seats) was released in the late 1970s. The Mk 5 GTI is a worthy successor to that tradition. Unless you need off-road capability, the GTI is everything you need in a car.